Campus Voices: Time Magazine Missed the Mark

Natalia Lopez, Campus Voices Contributor

This past week, Time Magazine released their annual pick for “Person of the Year.” Naturally, it is normal to expect someone who has completely revolutionized our society to be chosen. As Time Magazine describes it, “The person or persons who most affected the news and our lives, for good or ill, and embodied what was important about the year.” Considering the circumstances of 2020, there are a lot of people who fall into this criteria: nurses, doctors, first responders, healthcare professionals, big Pharma (Pfizer), teachers, police officers, I could go on. To me, the last person, or “people” I should say, who have done anything remotely honorable to deserve this credit are Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, this year’s recipients. 

Normally, Time’s yearly titles are not the “end all be all” of awards or hold much weight at all, considering they have chosen Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin in the past, but this year really struck me as being the most offensive in my lifetime. Before I dive into the implications regarding their win, it is important to note why Time chose them as “Person of the Year”: “For changing the American story…”, said Time’s Editor in Chief, Edward Felsenthal. “For showing that the forces of empathy are greater than the furies of division, for sharing a vision of healing in a grieving world.”

I have a few questions: How have Biden and Harris “changed the American story,” considering that they are not in office yet? How have they at all contributed to relief efforts for this year’s disasters? Does their work equate to the work of the healthcare industry during COVID? No. Think about it, no matter who you voted for, what have Joe Biden and Kamala Harris done this year, besides campaigning and winning the election, that has tangibly helped the American people? 

Time’s entire description for the winners is based on a futuristic presumption: Joe Biden’s entire agenda of “promises”, “hope”, “healing.” These haven’t taken effect, considering he is not the president yet. It is a win filled with hopeful wishes that do not take into consideration the realities of this year and those who have put their lives on the line to tackle those “promises”. Additionally, “healthcare workers”, as a group, won the national poll for “Person of the Year.” Biden, without Harris, came in fifth place with 3.8% of the vote, yet he was still chosen.  

There are many different demographics that deserve this award, and considering that Time once named “the personal computer” as a recipient, more than one person can hold this title. Simply stated, this year’s award was a major slap in the face to healthcare workers who have worked around the clock to flatten the curve and save as many people as possible.

A more deserving recipient of Time Magazine Person of the Year: healthcare workers. (Natalia Lopez)

Sacrificing their lives for us and having to endure the unimaginable, there is nothing of similar magnitude that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have done thus far that can beat this. Healthcare workers have experienced stress levels equivalent to those in combat in the military, and have endured the pain of not seeing their families, while we are in the comfort of our own homes. Also deserving of the title: Big Pharma. Pharmaceutical companies have managed to do the impossible and develop a vaccine for this virus inside 10 months and are currently distributing millions of vaccines across the nation. People have worked day and night to see this time come, yet Time Magazine decides to overlook this because it is not enough to “change America’s story.”

Lastly, and also deserving: teachers. This year, despite a global pandemic, teachers have risked their lives by coming to school to continue the education of the younger generation and ensure that this pandemic does not intellectually affect the youth. They have adapted to a new way of life, including the use of new technology, and most importantly, have continued to take care of the emotional well being of their students. Although overlooked, they are essential workers and the unsung heroes of this pandemic. Awarding Biden and Harris the title is tantamount to telling all essential workers that they have not made an impact in 2020 and they have yet to “change America’s story”, as Time put it. 

This is not meant to be political, simply the truth. As The Week contributor Mathew Walther put it, “Person of the Year is now a tedious self-referential gimmick that exists for the sole purpose of getting people to care about Time.” An opportunity that could have been used for good and honor has now turned into a political stunt to sell more copies. Time Magazine bombed the opportunity to harp on the fact that this year has been crazy, and one where many people have had to sacrifice their lives for the welfare of strangers.